Do cops in your state need a warrant to track your phone?

Location records can reveal an enormous of information about a person, especially with the proliferation of smartphones that constantly track our whereabouts. Because privacy laws haven’t kept up with advances in technology, police have long claimed the authority to access this information from cell phone companies without warrants.

That’s changing. While Congress and the Supreme Court haven’t yet weighed in on whether a warrant should be required for location information, little by little, state legislatures and lower courts are expanding privacy protections for more and more Americans.

That does mean, however, that the status of your privacy protections depends on where you are. For example, your location information is protected in Montana, but not in Georgia. In Illinois, police need a warrant to know where you are right now, but not where you were last week. In California, your location information is protected against warrantless search by state and local police, but not by federal authorities. In other states, we’re still waiting for rulings, and in Florida, state and federal courts are at odds on the matter.

The map above details the status of cell phone location tracking laws by state.

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